Desert Vista head coach Dan Hinds aims to see improvement from his team on a weekly basis, regardless of result.
He had hoped they would carry some momentum from the late drive against Highland in Week 2 that saw the Thunder offense click and get into the end zone for the first time this season. It was clear early on in Friday’s contest against Basha Hinds would get more than just leftover momentum, as the offense and defense showed flashes of vast improvement despite a 38-24 loss to Basha.
“Our team turned the corner tonight,” Hinds said. “We did a lot of good things and improved tremendously from last week. Jackson did a great job with our (run, pass, option) game tonight.
“He made some great reads.”
Sophomore quarterback Jackson Akins, who was one of several to make the jump from the freshmen team last year to varsity this season, easily had his best performance under center for the Thunder.
The 6-foot-1, 170-pound gunslinger showed poise under pressure from Basha’s defense and an overall ability to escape the pocket. His ability to manage the Desert Vista offense was made abundantly clear early on, as he marched the Thunder down the field early in the first quarter and called his own number for a 1-yard touchdown.
In the third quarter with Desert Vista trailing by two touchdowns, Akins orchestrated yet another drive that ended with an 18-yard pass to junior wideout Cade Colemere, who managed to get a foot in bounds in the back of the end zone for the touchdown. Despite three interceptions – one of which on a tipped pass – Akins completed 20 of his 35 attempts for 300 yards and a touchdown. He added 43 yards and another touchdown on the ground.
Four Desert Vista wideouts had 30 or more receiving yards on the night. Sophomore athlete Michael Allison, who shined in the Thunder’s loss to Highland, once again paced the offense with 98 receiving yards.
Desert Vista found a new sense of urgency against Basha. Some of that likely stemmed from the energy showed by Grubbs, who missed last week’s game against Highland with a knee injury.
Grubbs primarily played safety throughout the first quarter, where he proved effective in coverage and in the run-game. He was used sparingly on offense in the first half but added a spark in the second quarter on a 19-yard touchdown run in which he plowed through multiple defenders before sprawling out for the goal line.
Despite only rushing six times on the night, he finished with 60 yards and the score. Grubbs said he was happy to be back on the field and looks forward to Desert Vista’s home opener against Mountain View and the debut of its new turf field.
“I’m glad to finally be able to play at home,” Grubbs said. “I think it’ll bring a little more confidence to the players that need it. We just need to finish the game with just as much effort, physicality and energy as when we start it.”
Late touchdown the difference in Pride’s loss to Shadow Ridge
A forgettable first half by Mountain Pointe quickly turned into a near perfect comeback as the Pride fell to Shadow Ridge after a last-second touchdown, 39-30.
Leading 30-26 with under a minute left in regulation, Mountain Pointe’s defense stopped Shadow Ridge’s offense short of the goal line on three consecutive plays. But as time ticked under 10 seconds, the Stallions capitalized on fourth down to take the 33-30 lead. A last-ditch effort on kick return as time expired resulted in another Shadow Ridge touchdown after several laterals by Mountain Pointe.
Mountain Pointe was unable to find any rhythm on either side of the ball in the first half, as Shadow Ridge quickly built to a three-score lead. Then, however, something clicked.
“We started flat on offense and that hurt us the first half,” Mountain Pointe coach Eric Lauer said. “We came out first thing in the second half and started making it a ball game. They fought, they didn’t give up.”
A strong drive out of the locker room put Mountain Pointe on the board. A defensive stop then led to a field goal to cut Shadow Ridge’s lead in half. After a Stallions’ score, senior defensive end Zach Hay tipped a pass at the line of scrimmage and returned it for a touchdown. On the Pride’s next offensive possession, sophomore running back Jay’len Rushing further cut into Shadow Ridge’s lead with a short touchdown run.
Mountain Pointe’s go-ahead touchdown was the result of a bobbled snap by Shadow Ridge’s punter. Pride senior safety Jason Ramirez picked up the poorly timed kick and fell into the end zone.
“Our defense is getting better,” Lauer said. “We always talk about making the offense play another play. They gave us opportunities. They’re keeping us right there in games.”
Having battled through several injuries the first two weeks of the season, Lauer believes his team is on the right track to getting key pieces back on the field. Senior tackle Zereoue Williams made his first start of the season after a foot injury kept him sidelined. Senior tight end Kevin Sawitzke, who has been out with a hand injury, is set to return soon which will give junior quarterback Amier Boyd a 6-foot-6 target down the middle of the field.
Lauer hopes to continue seeing improvement as his team hosts Basha on Friday.
“They’re performing and doing what we ask,” Lauer said. “They are staying the course. I saw Basha won tonight and they played a good game a couple weeks ago against Shadow Ridge.
“It should make for a good game Friday back at home.”